Atascadero recently sent two city officials to a retail conference to help bring new business to town.
Councilman Bob Kelley and Assistant City Manager Jim Lewis attended the Western Division conference of the International Council of Shopping Centers in San Diego in late September.
The pair promoted Atascadero by touting its available retail space, such as Colony Square and the former Rite Aid and Denny’s spaces along El Camino Real off Highway 101.
Kelley and Lewis met with representatives of six restaurants, five retailers, a hotelier and real estate brokers, Lewis said.
He declined to say which companies they spoke with as to not start rumors, he said.
Previous participation in the conference helped the city net Big Lots, Dollar Tree, Staples and Home Depot, Lewis said.
Nordstrom and The Old Spaghetti Factory were among the retailers the pair didn’t approach, Lewis said, because those businesses require towns with larger populations.
Atascadero’s demographics presented during the visit included the town’s proximity to Highway 101 and data on its residents — all details retailers require when expanding into a new market.
“We try to match retailers and brokers to what we have in the community and get the community in front of these people,” Lewis said.
Atascadero has 27,800 residents with a median age of 39 and a median household income of $64,852, according to the city’s economic development website.
City officials know which retailers residents want, Lewis said, “but the city doesn’t get to pick.”
They pointed out in the meetings that an environmental study for the proposed Walmart is halfway done. Walmart proved to be a big draw for eateries, Lewis said.
“Olive Garden and Red Lobster are very high volume places, and they need a lot of people to make them successful,” Lewis said. “They know we’re here. I wouldn’t be surprised to see one of them pop up with the Walmart project.”
The conference attracts developers, managers, marketing specialists, investors, lenders, retailers and other professionals as well as public officials.
— Tonya Strickland
The Arroyo Grande Chamber of Commerce is seeking vendors interested in participating in an annual “50+ Expo” on Nov. 10.
The expo is in its sixth year and is designed to showcase health, finance, leisure, fitness, personal safety and business services for seniors and caregivers. Sponsors include Arroyo Grande Community Hospital, Community Health Centers, Allstate Insurance, Bend Chiropractic, Madelyn’s Apparel and Home Instead Senior Care.
The expo will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the South County Regional Center, 800 W. Branch St. in Arroyo Grande.
For more information, go to www.agchamber.com, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 489-1488.
— Cynthia Lambert